Everyone Lies. Siblings often lie thinking they are helping or covering for their other sibling. In this case, the lies lead to loss. Not intentionally of course, but how often do we lie thinking of the snowball effect they will cause. People often don’t think of the pain a lie will cause – simply because the pain wasn’t intentional. But intentions aren’t what matters when the end result is the same. In this story, the lies led to Micah’s downfall, disappearance, and a family searching for answers.
Rachel reflects on the beginning of Micah’s drug use and compares living with a lie as a tapeworm that isn’t removed from your life until it is physically removed from its host and she spends the entire novel trying to remove her symbolic tapeworm.
Rachel goes through guilt of her brother’s bad decisions and not telling her parents sooner that he was using drugs (the first time and when he began again), being angry at him for lying to them all, for leaving. Soon her anger subsides to concern when she receives an anonymous email that Micah is in trouble. She enlists Micah’s best friend, Tyler, on a road trip in search for Micah.
- Shock, denial, anger, responsibility and in the end she understands the necessity and coping in the ability to let go of what one cannot control (a note to myself since my next article for The Hub is about loss, grief, and bibliotherapy in YA fiction.)
The novel’s entirety is less than a 36 hour weekend, but the flashbacks provide a detailed telling of Micah’s destructive downfall. Tyler helps Rachel look for Micah and come across various misfits, drug users, and concerned friends. Rachel comes to terms that her brother’s choices were not anything she could control or wish for a different outcome and there is some closure at the end – but not the closure she had hoped. An important undertone of the story is also how Micah’s spiral from a regular teenager to a runaway, drug addict affects those around him, an element that even with the darkness of this book a lot of teens would benefit to witness. In the words of Stephen Sondheim, “You are not along” and all of our actions affect those nearest to us.
National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature (2012)